This weekend marks another year for the old newsman.
And old does feel appropriate these days. “You’re only as old as you feel,” and some days that is more like 75 than 45.
When I was a kid, I was thrilled to find out that I shared a birth date with up and coming Hollywood actress Winona Ryder. I’m not sure exactly what time of day she was born, but I like to think that we were only a few hours apart as she was born in Minnesota and I in North Carolina.
Of course, when you’re a kid, you see the world and all its possibilities. You imagine what greatness lies before you. When you are turning 46, you start wondering where you went off-track. Wasn’t I supposed to be rich and famous and retiring early so I could go jet skiing every day?
These days when I see all the famous people with whom I share a birthday, I can only compare all that they accomplished with what little I have – like that chessboard table I was going to build several years ago or the half-dozen Great American Novels that I started and never got more than 100 pages into writing.
Just look at some of these names and see if it doesn’t feel intimidating.
• Edmond Halley, 1656, British astronomer, mathematician and physicist. Halley’s Comet was named for him, after he calculated its projected orbit and rate of return.
• John Keats, 1796, British poet, works include The Fall of Hyperion: A Dream, God of the Golden Bow, The Human Seasons, Hyperion, Ode to a Grecian Urn, Ode to a Nightingale, On Death, Sleep and Poetry, Staffa, This Living Hand, To Autumn, To Lord Byron.
• Fanny Brice, 1891, American singer, comedienne and actress (Baby Snooks, The Great Ziegfeld, My Man and Ziegfeld Follies). The 1968 film Funny Girl was based on her life.
• Bill Mauldin, 1921, American World War II editorial cartoonist and Pulitzer Prize winner (1945 and 1959); best remembered as the creator of G.I. Joe.
• Denny Laine, 1944, British rock guitarist and singer, The Moody Blues and Wings.
• Melba Hill Moore, 1945, American R&B singer (“The Greatest Feeling,” “Lean on Me,” “A Little Bit More,” “Love’s Comin’ at Ya,” “Read My Lips” and “You Stepped into My Life”) and actress (Broadway play Hair, The Fighting Temptations and The Melba Moore – Clifton Davis Show).
• Richard Dreyfus, 1947, star of such films as “Jaws,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” “American Graffiti,” “Stakeout” and “What about Bob?”
• American actress Kate Jackson, 1948, (Charlie’s Angels and Scarecrow and Mrs. King).
• American rock singer Kevin DuBrow, 1955, Quiet Riot.
• Dan Castellaneta, 1957, American actor, voice-over talent behind Homer Simpson, Grandpa Simpson and Krusty the Clown. Also was the voice of the genie in Aladdin: The Return of Jafar and the TV series. Born.
• Sweet Chamberlin, 1965, American heavy metal rock drummer for Warrant.
• Peter Timmins, 1966, Canadian country and rock drummer (Cowboy Junkies).
• American actress Joely Fisher 1967, (Ellen DeGeneres’s best friend on Ellen, Joy Stark on Til Death). Her parents are singer Eddie Fisher and actress Connie Stevens. She didn’t know that Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) was her half-sister until after Star Wars came out when she was 9.
• Rufus Sewell, 1967, British actor (Dark City, The Illusionist, A Knight’s Tale, and a personal favorite The Very Thought of You with Joseph Fiennes and Monica Potter).
• Winona Ryder, 1971. Need I say more?
• American actress Gabrielle Union (Breakin’ All the Rules, Bring It On, Cradle 2 the Grave, Deliver Us from Eva, The Honeymooners and She’s All That), 1972.
• Ben Foster, 1980, “3:10 to Yuma,” “Warcraft,” “The Mechanic,” “30 Days of Night,” “X-Men: Last Stand,” “Alpha Dog” and TV’s “Six Feet Under.”
Do you see that list? Holy cow! That’s pretty intimidating.
After 27 years of trying to play guitar, I still flub the intro to “Sweet Child o’ Mine.” When I moved from Gentry to North Surry in the marching band, I was ranked 12th in the trumpet section.
My greatest acting achievement was square dancer #3 in the sixth-grade play of Davy Crockett at White Plains Elementary School.
Richard Dreyfuss and Winona Ryder have stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. My own aunt forgets my name.
Okay, sure, some folks don’t become somebody until later in life. Tim and Nina Zagat didn’t start writing their restaurant guides until they were 42. Vera Wang didn’t give up being a fashion editor to be a fashion designer until age 40.
Still, those folks were younger than I am.
But, I can take solace that Rodney Dangerfield had his big break at 46 when he got onto the Ed Sullivan Show.
Samuel L. Jackson was a familiar face in Hollywood, but never a star until “Pulp Fiction” when he was 46.
Julia Child didn’t have her own TV cooking show until she was 51.
Duncan Hines was 55 when he wrote his first food and hotel guides and later licensed his name for a line of cake mixes.
And if I’m really late to the party, Grandma Moses was 76 when she had to give up embroidery because of her arthritis and switched to painting.
Maybe I’m not really unsuccessful – I just haven’t found the right niche yet.
Jeff is the news editor and can be reached at 415-4692.